In October, our 34th year, we hosted a conference in Riddel Hall, Belfast. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in the organisation of the conference, all the participants, speakers and of course all the fabulous PlayBoard staff who worked really hard to make the day a resounding success.

PlayBoard NI Conference 2018 - Play Matters Conference Pack
PlayBoard NI Conference 2018 - Jacqueline O'Loughlin

Aptly, titled Play Matters this year’s conference theme focused on the interrelated concepts to Space, Place and Permission to Play. The relationship between environmental opportunities for play and the wind fall benefits to children’s health, well-being and development is well evidenced. The findings are clear – playing, particularly playing outdoors is good for both body and mind. However as is reported frequently in the press, outdoor play is on the decline. The interrelated conference themes allowed speakers and participates to focus on environmental, technological and societal factors that are thwarting children’s ability to play outdoors.

PlayBoard NI Conference 2018 - Play Doe
PlayBoard NI Conference 2018 - Play Doe Animals

We were pleased to be joined by Margaret-Rose McNaughton, Department of Education’s Director of Children and Young People’s Services. Margaret-Rose opened this year’s event by focusing on the Departments commitment to play via their ambitious Play Matters initiative.

L-R: Theresa Casey, Margaret-Rose McNaughton, Harry Harbottle, Jacqueline O’Loughlin, Bob Hughes & Sue Palmer

Key note speakers included Bob Hughes, Sue Palmer, Theresa Casey, Neil Galway and Harry Harbottle. It was a real treat to hear from and be inspired by, such a renowned group of influential experts, from an array of different backgrounds education, children’s play, childcare, psychology, environmental design and child safety.

One hundred and twenty five participates joined us on the day, and indeed we could have had more were the venue been able to accommodate bigger numbers.

PlayBoard NI Conference 2018 - Margaret Rose McNaughton
PlayBoard NI Conference 2018 - Bob Hughes

Below is flavour of some of the comments we received about the 2018 conference:

“Such a great conference. Thought provoking, inspiring. So well organised.”

“Lots of fantastic speakers. Like children – I need to learn how to play outdoors!”

“Keep up the good work PlayBoard!”

“The guest speakers were all of a very high standard and helped me to rethink and re-evaluate my own practice and ensuring I get out more and into nature in the elements.”

“The importance of embracing a child’s right to play. We have an obligation if we work with children and family to embed this message and take practical steps to implement it.”

“We need to make the public at large more aware of the importance of play, of allowing children to take the risk and get clabbered (in mud).”

“Congratulations PlayBoard – great line-up of speakers with very interesting ideas!”

“Glad I signed up to this conference. It was a really interesting and worthwhile day.”

“Thank you to everyone involved including the staff for a great conference.”

We are already in planning mode for 2019 so watch this space for further updates.

Playfully yours